There’s No Place Like Dome

There's no place like domeMirror, mirror on the wall, who is the greenest of them all? Debatable, I’m sure, but the other-worldly monolithic dome structure makes a very convincing contender for the most verdant off all buildings of the environmentally friendly persuasion. Impervious to rot and bugs, the dome laughs in the face of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and fires. Durable, cost effective, energy efficient and, most of all, green to the core; these monolithic masterpieces are popping up like mushrooms after a thunderstorm.

There's no place like domeWhether you call them ‘micro-energy’, net-zero energy, or zero energy homes, the modern green home is designed to use very little energy. This means they need to be easy to construct, use recycled materials and must be super insulated to cut down on heating and cooling costs. Not only do monolithic domes provide an insulated structure, the construction itself is also highly efficient as the dome is built using only 2.5 to 4 inches of concrete; 50 to 70% thinner than conventional buildings. The structures are reinforced with rebar which is made from 99% recycled material. The domes not only save money on energy, but bigger structures can be up to 30% cheaper to build than those of a less emerald hue.

The domes are constructed by laying a foundation ring. A custom made PVC dome shell is built and inflated on top of the foundation. Polyurethane foam is sprayed on the inside to act as insulation. Once the foam has set, rebar hangers are secured to the foam. Rebar is then used to create a frame over which shotcrete is sprayed.

There's no place like domeTo move close to net-zero or zero energy homes, the next generation of monolithic domes are a hybrid of ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) and monolithic domes. ICFs have two layers of Polystyrene insulation connected by polypropylene webs. Once the ICF blocks have been stacked and reinforced with rebar, concrete is poured between the polystyrene outer layers. The ICF walls combined with the dome roof create an almost indestructible, insulated envelope that can use up to 75% less energy to heat and cool. Coupled with renewable energy sources, these homes become net-zero or zero energy homes as they produce all of the energy they consume.

There's no place like domeIn Ontario, the Great Lakes Dome Company constructs monolithic domes. In 2006 they caused a stir at the Toronto International Home Show with their mini monolith which was constructed to illustrate the techniques and advantages of owning a monolithic dome. For the curious, the dome can still be viewed outside Woolfits Art Supplies on Abel and Queen Street west.

Impervious to bullets, the domes have been unscathed by onslaughts from rifles and projectiles. The only damage during tornadoes and hurricanes has been a few broken windows. Concrete walls are unaffected by fire and the re-bar reinforcements adds strength to withstand earthquakes. Domes are the superheroes of modern construction and can be built on any terrain; mountains, deserts, beaches and even underwater!


Green Building, ICF Construction

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